Be wary of payment requests

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Most of us would like to think we’re clever and wouldn’t fall for a telephone scam where an unknown caller claimed they needed immediate payment for some outstanding debt and threatened to arrest you.

Still, the best of us can fall victim to these types of scams if we don’t know the warning signs. And scammers’ tactics can change faster than the news can spread of what to be on the lookout for.

Recently, the Ohio Attorney General warned of another phone scam targeting elderly residents.

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In the past month, 11 Ohioans have reported losing an average of $3,800 to this “grandparent scam.” Most said they paid over the phone using iTunes gift cards after receiving a call saying their grandchild was in trouble.

And what grandparent wouldn’t come to the financial rescue of their grandchild if they had the means and opportunity to do so?

The scam often begins with a phone call telling grandparents that one of their grandchildren has been in a car accident, caught with drugs, or put in jail.

The caller pretends to be the grandchild, an attorney, or a law enforcement officer and tells the grandparent to send money, usually in the form of gift cards, to have the charges dismissed, to cover court costs, or to allow the grandchild to return home.

The grandparent is told to go to the store right away, to buy several gift cards, and to read the card numbers over the phone. Using this information, the scammer drains the cards’ funds almost instantly.

Everyone should be wary of unusual payment requests like this. These are preferred payment methods for scammers because it is difficult to trace or recover the payment once it is provided.

The best way to combat these scams is to make your family members aware of them and how you would communicate in a real emergency. And if you receive these calls, report them to local law enforcement or the AG’s office by calling 800-282-0515.